Former Fire Chief Cayen Acquitted

Pat Cayen speaks with defense counsel Phillip Millar outside the Sarnia Courthouse. March 15, 2018. (Photo by Colin Gowdy, Blackburn News)

After initially being charged over five years ago, a former Sarnia fire chief has been found not guilty of sexual assault.

Pat Cayen was acquitted of all charges at the close of a second trial Thursday in the Superior Court of Justice in Sarnia.

Calling it a classic case of “he said, she said,” Justice Russell Raikes of London ruled there were inconsistencies and discrepancies in the accuser’s story.

The 59-year-old Cayen faced 24 charges from one female complainant that were alleged to have occurred between 12 and 15 years ago.

The identity of the accuser is protected by a publication ban.

An emotional Cayen was embraced by family and friends in the courtroom when the decision was announced.

He says being exonerated is a relief but the damage has been done.

“This has basically not only destroyed my life but has destroyed my friends’ and family’s lives,” says Cayen. “It’s been a horrible, horrible experience.”

Cayen says after living under a ‘horrible shadow’ for five years, “I can now go to my son’s soccer games, I can now take my dog for a walk in the park.”

The former city fire chief was sentenced to five years in prison in May 2015 after being convicted in his first trial on adult and youth charges.

The Ontario Court of Appeal quashed the convictions in November 2016, ruling an error in law was made by mixing adult and youth indictments and allowing similar fact evidence to be applied to both cases.

The Crown subsequently withdrew the youth charges and a second trial proceeded on adult charges.

Cayen was initially charged in late 2012 and his employment with the Sarnia Fire and Rescue Service was terminated in early 2013.

Defence counsel Phillip Millar says he doesn’t anticipate civil action being taken against the city as a result of his client’s acquittal.

-With files from Dave Dentinger